Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The homemaker's need to recharge

One of you ladies asked me the following question:

Do you have neighbors you can visit with during the day? Do you have activities or hobbies apart from your family? Other professionals get breaks, so I am having a hard time getting my mind around not needing to do anything but home-making round the clock.

I don't see being a wife, mother an homemaker as a profession; it's what I live and breathe every second of every day, and also what I love the most. I don't have shifts that can be over and done with. I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm thankful for the privilege to be there for my family, to keep my home, to hold my baby any moment of the day or night when I am needed.

I do have "my own" things; I don't see hobbies and friends as something that prevents me from doing my "real" job. You see, I've noticed that there is an incredible pressure on stay-at-home mothers to prove that they aren't wasting their time at home, which often causes us to feel a twinge of guilt for spending twenty minutes with a book, and I don't think it's fair - we are in no less need of recharging our batteries than those who work outside the home.

In my spare time, I enjoy writing - stories, poems, journals, you name it. Also here on this blog, of course! Writing rejuvenates me, I have been doing it throughout most of my adult life and I would miss it terribly if suddenly had to stop. And reading - I've always been a bookworm, a quiet hour with a favorite book to me is as comforting as a mug of hot chocolate. I can strongly relate to what Pendragon said in a comment a few days ago:

"My ultimate idea of home is a place with books everywhere and every spot from the bed to the couch in the living room to the front porch to the grass outside representing a spot to curl up and read and think. To me, home is a place where the hours pass by very slowly and one has the luxury of absolute privacy and knowing one will not be bothered."

Among other favorite things of mine, I love the luxurious feeling of soft yarn sliding between my fingers, and enjoy knitting and crocheting. I expect each one of us finds joy, comfort and relaxation in different things - some of which can be even directly related to our work as homemakers, such as gardening, soap-making and canning.

I have friends - though admittedly, not too many, as I've always been an introvert - and I often stop for a chat with a neighbour over our clotheslines. It's true that I don't often mention my friends or family here - partly because I want to keep private, partly because a blog cannot be a true mirror of one's life. We also live in a remote area, which means that we don't see our friends and family on a daily basis - we knew moving here would not be without challenges, and we love it.

Of course, most of my time is spent taking care of my baby and my home, and I believe it's very important to find a balance here - when you are the manager of your own time and you spend your days at home, it's easy to become distracted and waste far more time on hobbies than you would think reasonable. A short break can stretch into hours and "extras" can become all-consuming. That is hardly the point of being home full-time - while most of us undoubtedly seek a less stressful lifestyle, it doesn't mean we should become unproductive.

Indeed, we homemakers must be very careful when balancing the needs of our family and our needs for rest and refreshment - self-discipline and careful time-management are the key.

15 comments:

Becca said...

I am pregnant with our 6th. We homeschool and our oldest is 14. The youngest is 20 months. I have found as we have more children and as I have more school-aged children that time to spend on hobbies is practically non-existent. The only books I read are the children's books that they are reading for school. Scheduling a time for tea with a friend is very difficult and rarely happens!
But even with all that, God has brought me to a place where he has humbled me and made the verse from the Bible real to me that says, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)" Of course I believe the "friends" also refers to my family. ;-)

Elise said...

Hello, I absolutely adore your site and I just had to leave a note for you to say so !

Your posts are interesting, creative and original, and your pictures are great too.

Perfection !

Thank you for sharing them all and best wishes... Happy September

Kacie said...

Great post! I'm fortunate that some of my hobbies directly relate to my homemaking.

For example, I love to cook and I'm always tweaking recipes and testing new ones.

I also enjoy photography. I have the cutest little subject you could ever ask for!

Anonymous said...

I think it is crucial to do something 'of your own', to have a niche of time and space and quiet.

I don't know how people like Becca, who posted above, manage to homeschool large families. I have 5 children under 14. We had a wonderful, intense summer vacation, and lived it to the fullest. But I am glad it is over now, and the kids are back at school, even though it means I too am back at work part time. I need my quiet time, alone in the house. When everyone is home (including my husband), I sometimes lock the bedroom door to get an hour of rest or reading...but it's not the same. You can hear all the commotion.

(And before people respond...no, the reason I don't homeschool is not so I can get my quiet time. But it's a nice by-product, and my kids need their away time too. We all appreciate each other more when we take a breather during the day).
I love having a big family, the action, the dynamics, the love...but it certainly makes for a different concept of home. I do think the more children one has, the more important it is to set aside some time for yourself, doing whatever rejuvenates you personally. You do need time to meet friends for coffee or read a book. Such activities perk most people up, and make them happier parents too.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Thank you so much for responding to my question. I think you hit the nail on the head when you described yourself as an introvert. It's hard for me to imagine myself in your life because I'm very extroverted. Though I love reading, the scenario another lady described (and that you quoted) of having lots of quiet spaces for books would drive me bonkers! Same with hand crafts. I like them when I'm with friends and we're working on them together. I get bored when I'm doing them all alone :-) (I mean this in all love) I don't believe that God intended for extroverted women to become introverts once they say, "I do."

(my family happens to enjoy my extroverted ways, though I've heard the preaching about how this is somehow wrong or unfeminine)

I think it does come down to the old saying, "different strokes for different folks." There's more than one way to make a home.

- Sally

Lena said...

A beautiful post...It is precious to be able to hold your little ones when ever you choose, to make your house a lovely home, to greet your husband after his long and hard day at work... thats what it makes to be a wife, a mother, and a woman...

Kaleanani said...

I find at times longing for an in-person friend, but I've largely given up on trying to find one. It took too much effort. We moved here recently and there are no women who share our family's values here within the neighborhood. It's not so much a problem for me, but when we try to get friendly at the park, for example, they clam up when they find that I'm a SAHM - that is if they don't already give me funny looks because I cover and don't dress to the nines (to go to the park!!) the way they do.

That said, I do find fellowship online, of like minded women. And every summer we get to socialize in person at festivals to which we travel. It's a bit lonely but not terribly so, and I find that as my kids get older they become fun little people to hang out with as well. We do enjoyable things together throughout the day. We do chores and the like, then we just "hang out" and play games, read books, knit, do puzzles... And after the kids are in bed (they go very early) I find I have time to myself, to read, write, spend on the computer - even go swimming sometimes by myself, or make a quick run to the book store. I lead a very enriched life despite being a SAHM and have lots of hobbies and passions. :)

Kaleanani said...

Oh, and I forgot to include within my previous answer that I too am an introvert. Although I do like being with friends, the effort required to get to the point where I'm comfortable with them, is pretty exhausting to me. I'm not great at initiating friendships. I wish it came easily to me, but I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm not that person. I pray that someday I will again have a "real life" best friend and I will try to put myself in positions to meet people, but I won't break my own legs falling over myself to try to meet people, either. It's just mentally exhausting for me.

Kaleanani said...

AND, (I'm so sorry for the triple post, Anna!) we do plan on homeschooling. I do kind of envy the mothers who send their kids off and put their feet up and have quiet time. My mother loved that time when I was in school. However, I think I would like the silence for all of three days before I missed them like crazy and wanted them home, where (in my opinion) kids belong. I do plan on having daily "quiet time" instituted, maybe an hour, it depends on their age, when they can play, read, study, etc. by themselves while I do the same. I already do something like that. They're only toddlers now but after their baths and when they are in their comfy pj's, I send each to their room for some "personal time" while I take a bath. That lasts until bedtime and they don't get impatient because they expect that after playing they will have my undivided attention as I cuddle each of them to sleep, read stories, nurse, etc. They're learning patience already. We're very lucky that we have a house where they can have their own little private nook that is their own. Just because you're a SAHM and homeschool doesn't mean that you guys are going to be attached at the hip 24/7 - even if you're in the same house.

Anonymous said...

I'm delighted for those who derive such deep meaning from taking care of husband and children. I also apologize for being defensive.

Please allow me to clarify. It is not that I don't enjoy cuddling my children or greeting my husband in the evenings! I breastfed my children and loved the bonding. It's just that the quiet house with all that privacy and serenity is not for me. My youngest is now 12, but there was a time when there was no predicting how many kids would be around because they all seemed to flock to our house. It was fun!

I'm extroverted, sporty, and boistrous. I laugh a lot. I can converse with anybody who wants to converse. There's more than one type of wife, more than one type of family and more than one type of home. I don't think you have to be shy and retiring to be feminine.

SouthernNight said...

The one question I can't stand is "...but what do you do ALL day?" Even though 4 of my 5 children are grown and away from home now, I still take care of a husband, 10 year old girl, 4 cats, and 8 dogs. I spend probably 3 hours total just walking the dogs throughout the day. Add to that cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work, and other things, I think I DO quite a lot! I do make time to read or work on hobbies, though. It does make for a much needed break.

I, too, am quite an introvert. I haven't had a friend since high school, and I'm almost 44 years old! We live in a rural area, and there is really nobody around to socialize with. (do cows count?) Most of my time is spent right here at home, and to tell you the truth, that's just how I like it.

Thank you for such an inspirational blog!

Take care,
Billie

Pendragon said...

And I can relate to this post!

I have a job outside the home in which I can take a break whenever I want and in which I mostly structure my own time. While that kind of freedom can be a luxury, it can be a burden too, requiring quite a bit of self-discipline.

Anonymous said...

"Discipline & careful time-management"....not always easy to acheive. And sometimes we can fall off the wagon, so to speak. Things have been a whirlwind of activity & travel around my home. And unfortunately, the house looks it! Today I chipped away at some of the more pressing needs. In a couple of days things should be put to rights. :o)

Brenda

Anonymous said...

I do agree with your concept of womanhood and homemaking in general but I think that it is very important to have a hobby. I do not like knitting or crocheting (perhaps it is a question of temper) but I enjoy horseriding. It is an expensive and time-consuming sport, but the time in the stables, smelling the scent of hay, leather and horses is just wonderful. These 3 hours a week I spend with "my" horse is precious to me - together with a dear friend, exercising and work-out, being outside, meadows, silence...
Although there is a general concept of womanhood you cannot ignore that there are many different types of women, outgoing and introvert women, calm women and those who need motion and exercise everyday. There are so much more things than housekeeping although being at home is a good thing. But there is such a wonderful and great world outside! Go out - enjoy long walks through the forest, through meadows. A sink with some dirty plates won´t make you a less precious woman and a less good mother.

Anonymous said...

i think there is a balance with being an extrovert and introvert. i know some extroverts who are too mouthy and introverts who seem to be rude because they don't say much and appear arrogant.we are all different. NOT WRONG, JUST DIFFERENT!
THANKS
BECKY